Nobody likes false humility.
You’ll be glad to hear, then, that our topic today has everything to do with thinking about our donor relationships in a more productive way and nothing to do with false humility.
Let’s start with a little visual:
There are three types of players in your work as a Jewish leader.
- Us and our team
- The people we serve
- The people who fund our work - our donors
Instinctively, most organization leaders place themselves at the most important position in the relationship - the top of the pyramid.
Because without you (and your team), nothing would happen. You’re the ones galvanizing the donors and taking care of the people you exist to help.
This way of thinking isn’t egotistical. It’s just logical.
Logic aside, when you’re able to mentally flip the pyramid, your donor relationships (and your fundraising) can take major turns for the better.
What does that flipped pyramid look like?
Who are the most important players now?
The ones at the top, of course - your donors, and the people you serve. You and your team now find yourselves at the bottom.
Instead of being the MVPs, the ultimate influencers, you and your people suddenly become - facilitators. People there simply to enable the massive good being done by your donors for your beneficiaries.
When you look at things this way, your donors suddenly become a much more important part of the story you tell yourself. They’re the ones making all your good work possible. Your hard work, your success - it’s ultimately their doing.
How does this mindshift move the needle in your fundraising?
Because your attitude influences how your donors feel about giving to you.
Donors want to feel like they’re making a real difference. Like their contribution is truly valued.
When you come to them with the mindset that your success is theirs, they feel it. They feel the increased respect, the stronger sense of belonging.
And they respond.
They take more of an emotional ownership of the work you do. They become more committed to your cause. They move from “detached supporter” to “organization ambassador.”
It’s a cornerstone of great fundraising.
*Ah-hah, Avraham. So… our donor relationships will improve if we just think long and hard about upside down triangles?*
Good point - mindset shifts are hard to make when they don’t come along with practical actions.
Hence - my three tips for starting to flip your triangle:
1. In your own head:
What’s a recent success you’d love to brag about? Write it down.
Now - reframe it. Instead of starting with the words “we did xyz,” make your donors the main actors. “Because of…” “If not for the support of…” “X made it possible for us to…”
2. In conversations with donors:
Use the same reframe. Instead of telling them about what you accomplished, tell them about what they accomplished.
“Danny, this incredible new program is all yours. It’s your gift that made it possible.”
“Susan, I can’t wait to share how your donation led to our most successful season yet!”
3. In conversations with your team (and board and volunteers):
Again, keep using that reframe. Keep verbally transferring credit to your donors. Make it clear exactly where your donors sit in your organization’s pyramid.
See - no false humility here. Just good fundraising strategy.
And lest a part of you isn’t too thrilled giving up all the credit to your donors -
Remember that if you truly cultivate this flipped-triangle mindset, your donors will transform into your biggest fans.
They’ll be the ones telling friends far and wide about all the great stuff you’re doing!
Have a great week,